Gender Norms: A Key to Improving Health & Wellness Among Black Women & Girls

Scholars have thought about the impact of gender and race on Black women and girls for several decades. Many theoretical frameworks and scholarly writings have examined the issue (Cole, 2009; Collins, 1990; Giddings, 1985; Hooks, 1981). However, the empirical research on race, gender norms and Black girls is still in its infancy. There is a small but growing body of empiri- cal research specifically devoted to Black girls and gender norms, which the authors sincerely hope will continue growing. However, there are a wealth of studies that employ racially diverse, multi-ethnic samples that include Black girls in significant numbers. Given the limitations of the empirical research base, this report focuses on three problem areas where the research base on the impact of feminine gender norms is both broad and well-accepted:

  • Basic health and wellness;
  • Reproductive and sexual health, including teen pregnancy and STIs;
  • Intimate relationships (including partner violence).

A Media Toolkit for Reporting on Rape and Sexual Violence


The Chicago Taskforce on Violence Against Girls & Young Women was founded to develop a comprehensive, citywide approach to ending violence against girls. Established in fall 2009, the Taskforce unites stakeholders from across Chicago to address the question: What conditions need to exist locally and statewide to end violence against girls and young women?

The Taskforce has become a central space to bring together practitioners and other stakeholders with the goal of developing a comprehensive strategy to end violence against girls and young women. The Taskforce has released papers and data analyses to develop the  eld and draw attention to the issue, brought together hundreds of organizational representatives in discussions, raised the issue with public of cials such as the Cook County Women’s Commission, and begun to build a stronger infrastructure for supporting girls’ safety in Chicago.

In 2011, we convened to discuss how the Taskforce could continue to raise the issue of violence against girls in the public discourse. We decided that producing a Media Toolkit to disseminate to members of the press was not only necessary for helping address the ever-deepening stigma around rape and sexual violence, but a critical and timely resource to address the pervasiveness of rape culture in society. This Toolkit provides concrete facts about the issue of violence against girls and young women; suggestions about issues to be covered regarding violence against girls, including the Taskforce’s recommendations of how to end violence; and information about key organizations.

Download it here.